“BARBARIANS”，A NETFLIX drama set 2,000 years ago in ancient Germania, inverts some modern stereotypes. In it, sexy, impulsive, proto-German tribesmen take on an oppressive superstate led by cold, rational Latin-speakers from Rome. Produced in Germany, it has all the hallmarks of a glossy American drama (gratuitous violence and prestige nudity) while remaining unmistakably German (in one episode someone swims through a ditch full of scheisse). It is a popular mix: on a Sunday in October, it was the most-watched show on Netflix not just in Germany, but also in France, Italy and 14 other European countries.
奈飞（Netflix）的电视剧《蛮战》（Barbarians）的背景设在两千年前的古日耳曼尼亚（Germania），它成功颠覆了一些现代的刻板印象。剧中，性感而冲动的原始日耳曼部落对抗压迫他们的超级帝国，领导后者的是冷酷、理性、满口拉丁语的罗马人。该剧在德国制作，具备了浮华美剧的一切特征（无端的暴力和华丽的裸体），同时又带有明白无误的德国味（其中一集中有人游过了一条满是粪便的水沟）。这种组合大受欢迎：在 10 月的一个周日，它不仅是德国地区收视率最高的奈飞剧集，在法国、意大利和其他 14 个欧洲国家也一样。
Moments when Europeans sit down and watch the same thing at roughly the same time used to be rare. They included the Eurovision Song Contest and the Champions League football, with not much in between. Now they are more common, thanks to the growth of streaming platforms such as Netflix, which has 58m subscribers on the continent. For most of its existence, television was a national affair. Broadcasters stuck rigidly to national borders, pumping out French programmes for the French and Danish ones for the Danes. Streaming services, however, treat Europe as one large market rather than 27 individual ones, with the same content available in each. Jean Monnet, one of the EU’s founding fathers, who came up with the idea of mangling together national economies to stop Europeans from killing each other, was once reputed to have said: “If I were to do it again from scratch, I would start with culture.” Seven decades on from the era of Monnet, cultural integration is beginning to happen.
在过去，欧洲人在差不多同一时间坐下来收看同一档节目的时候可不多。欧洲歌唱大赛和欧冠联赛是其中两档，在它们之间就寥寥可数了。如今这种时刻更常见了，这要归功于流媒体平台的发展，比如在欧洲大陆已拥有 5800 万订户的奈飞。电视自诞生以来，大部分时间里都是国家事务。广播电视公司严守国界，为法国人提供法国节目，为丹麦人提供丹麦节目。然而，流媒体服务把欧洲看做一个大市场，而非 27 个单独市场，在每个市场都提供相同的内容。欧盟的创始人之一让・莫内（Jean Monnet）提出了融合各国经济来避免欧洲人自相残杀的理念。据说他曾表示：「如果可以从头再来一次，我会从文化入手。」莫内的时代已经过去了 70 年，文化正开始融合。
Umberto Eco, an Italian writer, was right when he said the language of Europe is translation. Netflix and other deep-pocketed global firms speak it well. Just as the EU employs a small army of translators and interpreters to turn intricate laws or impassioned speeches of Romanian MEPs into the EU’s 24 official languages, so do the likes of Netflix. It now offers dubbing in 34 languages and subtitling in a few more. The result is that “Capitani”，a cop drama written in Luxembourgish, a language so modest it is not even recognised by the EU, can be watched in any of English, French or Portuguese (or with Polish subtitles). Before, a top French show could be expected to be translated into English, and perhaps German, only if it was successful. Now it is the norm for any release.
意大利作家安贝托・艾柯（Umberto Eco）曾说过，欧洲的语言就是翻译。此言不虚。奈飞和其他财大气粗的跨国公司把这门语言说得很好。正如欧盟雇用了一大批笔译和口译人员，将错综复杂的法律或欧洲议会里罗马尼亚议员的激情演讲翻译成欧盟的 24 种官方语言，奈飞这样的公司也干差不多的事。它现在已提供 34 种语言的配音，字幕的语种还要再多几个。这样一来，用原本非常小众、甚至不被欧盟认可的卢森堡语写就的探案剧《秘林迷村》（Capitani）也能以英语、法语或葡萄牙语配音（或加上波兰语字幕）观看。在此之前，一部法国大剧只有在获得成功之后才有望被翻译成英语，可能还有德语。而现在，这是所有节目的标配。
The economics of European productions are more appealing, too. American audiences are more willing than before to give dubbed or subtitled viewing a chance. This means shows such as “Lupin”，a French crime caper on Netflix, can become global hits. It is worth taking a punt on an expensive retelling of an early-20 th-century detective series about a gentleman jewel thief in Paris, if it has the potential to explode beyond France. In 2015, about 75% of Netflix’s original content was American; now the figure is half, according to Ampere, a media-analysis company. Netflix has about 100 productions under way in Europe, which is more than big public broadcasters in France or Germany.
欧洲剧集在经济效益上也变得更有吸引力了。美国观众比以前更乐意尝试配音或配字幕的节目。这意味着奈飞的法国犯罪喜剧《亚森・罗平》（Lupin）也有机会成为全球热门剧集。这部 20 世纪初的系列侦探小说描绘了一个风度翩翩的巴黎珠宝大盗，如果它有可能在法国以外的地方爆红，那么即使花费重金拍成电视剧也是值得的。媒体分析公司 Ampere 称，2015 年，奈飞约 75% 的原创内容来自美国，而现在只有一半。奈飞正在欧洲制作约 100 部作品，比法国或德国的大型公共广播公司还多。
And European officials wield a stick to encourage investment. European film-makers rival farmers in the ranking of cosseted European industries. To operate in the EU, streaming companies are required to ensure at least 30% of their catalogue hails from the bloc—and to promote it. Buying a back catalogue of 1990 s Belgian SOAP operas and hiding them in a digital cupboard does not count. France compels big media firms to kick back revenues into domestic production. If European governments are intent on shaking down big American firms, it is better for everyone that the money is spent on something watchable.
而欧洲官员挥舞大棒鼓励投资。在受保护的行业中，欧洲影视制作人受到的关照和农民不相上下。要想在欧盟运营，流媒体公司必须确保至少 30% 的剧目来自欧盟，而且必须加以推广。光是买一堆 1990 年代的比利时老肥皂剧来埋进数字橱柜里可不算数。法国要求大型媒体公司必须把收入再投入到本地节目制作上。既然欧洲各国政府执意要让美国的大公司下点血本，那还是把钱花在一些值得一看的作品上才皆大欢喜。
Not everything works across borders. Comedy sometimes struggles. Whodunits and bloodthirsty maelstroms between arch Romans and uppity tribesmen have a more universal appeal. Some do it better than others. Barbarians aside, German television is not always built for export, says one executive, being polite. A bigger problem is that national broadcasters still dominate. Streaming services, such as Netflix or Disney+, account for about a third of all viewing hours, even in markets where they are well-established. Europe is an ageing continent. The generation of teens staring at phones is outnumbered by their elders who prefer to gawp at the box.
并不是所有内容都能跨越国界。喜剧有时就比较难。侦探剧比较容易被普遍接受，高高在上的罗马人与桀骜不驯的部落之间的血腥混战也有普遍的吸引力。有些做得比其他好。一位德国高管客气地表示，除去《蛮战》，德国电视并不都适合出口。更大的问题是，国家广播公司仍然占据主导地位。奈飞或迪士尼 + 等流媒体服务只占总观看时长的三分之一，即使在它们地位稳固的市场也是如此。欧洲正在老龄化。整天捧着手机的青少年数量还是比不上喜欢坐在电视机前的长辈。
Actually, I want to direct 实际上，我想当导演
In Brussels and national capitals, the prospect of Netflix as a cultural hegemon is seen as a threat. “Cultural sovereignty” is the watchword of European executives worried that the Americans will eat their lunch. To be fair, Netflix content sometimes seems stuck in an uncanny valley somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, with local quirks stripped out. Netflix originals tend to have fewer specific cultural references than shows produced by domestic rivals, according to Enders, a market analyst. The company used to have an imperial model of commissioning, with executives in Los Angeles cooking up ideas French people might like. Now Netflix has offices across Europe. But ultimately the big decisions REST with American executives. This makes European politicians nervous.
They should not be. An irony of European integration is that it is often American companies that facilitate it. Google Translate makes European newspapers comprehensible, even if a little clunky, for the continent’s non-polyglots. American social-media companies make it easier for Europeans to talk politics across borders. (That they do not always like to hear what they say about each other is another matter.) Now Netflix and friends pump the same content into homes across a continent, making culture a cross-border endeavour, too. If Europeans are to share a currency, bail each other out in times of financial need and share vaccines in a pandemic, then they need to have something in common—even if it is just bingeing on the same series. Watching fictitious northern and southern Europeans tear each other apart 2,000 years ago beats doing so in reality.